power & control in dating and marriage relationships

April 29, 2011

When one person in a relationship repeatedly scares, hurts or puts down the other person, it is abuse. The Power & Control Wheel lists examples of each form of abuse. Remember, abuse is much more than slapping or grabbing someone.

(click on the image for a larger view at Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County, Alternatives to Domestic Aggression)

A relationship full of control is really out of control.

click here for resources for survivors of domestic violence

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3 Responses to “power & control in dating and marriage relationships”

  1. ThePioneer Says:

    But don’t a lot of those apply to God-the-father as many people understand Him?

    • James Says:

      Do a lot of these apply to God-the-Father? I’m certain many people do understand Him like that, which is part of the problem. Especially when people become like the god they worship. Starting with the key theological foundation, that if we’ve seen Jesus we’ve seen the Father, I don’t think any single one of those descriptions fit Jesus. I definitely do not believe they describe the Father. Perhaps the apostate in scriptures, but not our God. However, if you start with the presupposition that our God is like those character attributes, I can see how it would be very easy to pick and choose the parts that might support that view. I believe though that this view of God is not found in Hebraic thought, but mostly in Western European thought.

  2. Wayne P. Says:

    Would I be changing the subject if I suggested that we look at power and control in the life of the church – and not just in marriage? It will probably not be as explicit as many of the forms of control pictured in the diagram.

    Recently I talked with a woman – formerly of my strongly complementarian church. I commented on the male leadership’s preoccupation with biblical texts such as 1 Pet. 3 – the woman as the “weaker vessel” (without ever really defining ‘weaker’), and that men “have a responsibility to protect and defend women” (never really defining just what they are to be “protected and defended” from). Her reply was that this (“protect and defend”) is really code – a euphemism – for control.

    Here’s one way to put it that I’ve wondered about, based on Piper’s definition of “mature masculinity: to lead, provide for and protect women.” If a woman is strong and mature, and does not particularly need a man’s leadership, provision or protection, does she then become a threat to his masculinity? Does his “leadership” then become control, and the expected submission on her part become distorted into suppression?


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